9am Eastern Time
December 6, 2006
OVER 50% OF AMERICANS COVERED BY 100% SMOKEFREE MEASURES
HISTORIC MILESTONES: OHIO AND NEVADA GO SMOKEFREE
Berkeley, CA Residents of two more states, Ohio and Nevada are receiving a breath of fresh air this holiday season. Workers and residents in these states will finally enjoy their right to breathe smokefree indoor air, thanks to voter approved ballot measures.
This is a historic shift for the national smokefree air movement, said Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of Americans for Nonsmokers Rights. With Ohio and Nevadas smokefree laws in effect, more than 50% of Americans now enjoy strong smokefree protections.
In just 17 years, we have seen an amazing shift in the social norm supporting smokefree air. The first local 100% smokefree law took effect on August 3, 1990 in San Luis Obispo, California. Since then, more than 550 local smokefree measures have been enacted in cities like Lexington, Kentucky, Lincoln, Nebraska and New York City, New York, demonstrating broad base, mainstream support. Despite these successes, the tobacco industry continues to oppose smokefree and other tobacco prevention efforts. The industry demonstrated their deep pockets by spending over $100 million opposing tobacco control initiatives on the November 2006 ballot, yet still lost to public health in nearly every campaign.
Ohios new law takes effect December 7th and includes 100% smokefree protections for all workplaces, including restaurants and bars, bringing smokefree indoor air to millions of workers. Nevadas law, effective December 8th, covers most workplaces but exempts stand-alone bars and the gaming areas within casinos. These new smokefree measures, combined with 18 existing statewide laws and hundreds of local laws already in place, mean that smokefree workplaces are now the norm for America.
The debate about the merits of smokefree laws is over. Everyone deserves the right to breathe smokefree air in the workplace because secondhand smoke exposure causes heart disease, cancer and other diseases and death, as confirmed by the recent U.S. Surgeon Generals Report on The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, Hallett added.
In November, voters approved a strong smokefree initiative (Issue 5) with 58.3% voter support. During the campaign, R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco industry allies attempted to override the health community-backed initiative by placing a competing measure (Issue 4) on the ballot, which offered no real smokefree protections. Voters rejected Issue 4, the tobacco-backed amendment, by 64%, thus leaving the door wide open for smokefree air. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of thousands of volunteers to educate voters on this important issue, all Ohio workers will smokefree air starting December 7th.
Also in November, Nevada voters overwhelmingly approved the Nevada Smokefree Indoor Air Act (Question 5) by 53.9%. This new law takes effect December 8th, bringing 100% smokefree air to most Nevada workplaces and indoor public places, including schools, day care centers, and restaurants. Stand-alone bars and the gaming areas of casinos will be exempt from the new law. In addition, the initiative restored local control to Nevadas cities and towns, allowing communities to strengthen smokefree policy at the local level.
With the addition of Ohio and Nevadas state laws, 50.2% of Americans are protected from secondhand smoke. Arizona will soon jump on board with a strong statewide smokefree law as well, scheduled to take effect May 1, 2007.
Summary of Current Strong Smokefree State Laws (Click here for a current map)
- California: Restaurants and bars
- Colorado: Restaurants and bars
- Connecticut: Restaurants and bars
- Delaware: Workplaces, restaurants, and bars
- Florida: Workplaces, restaurants
- Hawaii: Workplaces, restaurants, and bars
- Idaho: Restaurants
- Maine: Restaurants and bars
- Mass.: Workplaces, restaurants, and bars
- Montana: Workplaces, restaurants (bars 10/1/09)
- Nevada: Workplaces, restaurants (12/8/06)
- New York: Workplaces, restaurants, and bars
- North Dakota: Workplaces
- Ohio: Workplaces, restaurants, and bars (12/7/06)
- Rhode Island: Workplaces, restaurants, and bars
- South Dakota: Workplaces
- Vermont: Restaurants and bars
- Washington: Workplaces, restaurants, and bars
- New Jersey: Workplaces, restaurants, and bars
- Utah: Workplaces, restaurants (bars 1/1/2009)
Additional laws passed, but not yet effective:
- Arizona: Workplaces, restaurants, and bars (effective 5/1/07)
- Washington, D.C., Restaurants and bars (effective 1/1/07)
- Louisiana: Workplaces and restaurants (effective 1/1/07)
- Puerto Rico: Workplaces, restaurants, bars and casinos (effective 3/3/07)
Americans for Nonsmokers Rights is a national, member-based, not-for-profit organization based in Berkeley, CA that is dedicated to helping nonsmokers breathe smokefree air in enclosed public places and workplaces.